Newspeak

I have, as the title would imply, been reading George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” It is an incredible book, and I am truly ashamed of not having read it before now. Then again, perhaps now I can understand it better than I would have four or five years ago.

As anyone who has read, or even heard of, the book knows, it is about a society and a government that have developed themselves in a way that eradicates all possibility of independent thoughts and actions. Or rather, the people who matter, the higher levels of society, are not allowed to freely think and feel, while the masses, the “proles”, lead their lives oblivious to what is going on in the government and in the country, concerned as they are with their day to day trivial matters.

While all of that is disturbing enough, one of the things that most troubled me as I was reading was the concept of “Newspeak.” Newspeak is the new language, one that is comprised of shortened words and terms so as to eventually kill the possibility of independent ideas, because there just won’t be enough words to express them. In the book there is actually a whole department whose job it is to eliminate words, useless words that aren’t necessary. I truly felt my heart pound with shock at the explanation in the book of how language doesn’t need the words “excellent” and “splendid” because they’re just “good” with a bit of exaggeration. Instead, there would be “plusgood” or “veryplusgood” to express things greater than just plain “good.”

How horrible the English language would be if ever it were reduced to such a bare bone! Just think; novels, poetry, plays and songs – all ruined, unable to exist anymore or even be written. Shivers literally go down my spine at the very thought.